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“More than any other man, save possibly Washington, Hamilton was regarded as the person who breathed life into the Constitution, and without exception he was viewed as the father of capitalism in America.”

HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. (English) Report of the Secretary of the Treasury … on the Subject of Manufactures

[Philadelphia:] Childs and Swaine, [1791]

Folio. [4], 58pp., bound without final blank leaf. Foot of last leaf and inner margins repaired affecting text, dampstained, washed and resized. Modern period-style quarter calf. Rare.

FIRST EDITION of Alexander Hamilton’s “Magna Carta of industrial America” (Howes), “perhaps the most eloquent argument ever made to prove the necessity for  industrializing a nation” (Schachner).

In his Report on Manufactures, Hamilton argued that the preservation of American independence required self-sufficiency through the promotion of manufacturing. The cornerstones of this approach were a system of internal improvements, moderate protective tariffs, and subsidies to industry. “Hamilton’s report stands as the Bible of those who have advocated government aid to encourage industry … these ideas were far ahead of the age.”

Hamilton’s views were diametrically opposed to those of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison who believed fervently in the ideal of the agrarian society and the independent yeoman farmer. Hamilton convinced Congress to adopt his tariffs, and soon protectionism and internal improvements became central to American policy and economic growth. While Congress failed to accept Hamilton’s proposals in full, his ideas were to dictate the ultimate development of the American economy. The Report’s principles formed the basis for the American School (or National System) that would dominate American political and economic thought.

Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures was to the American economy as the Federalist was to the American democracy. The American economic and political systems were Hamilton’s twin pillars of the growth of America as a democratic capitalist society. “Of all Hamilton’s great state papers, his Report on the Subject of Manufactures was by far his most original, best informed, farsighted, far-reaching, and generally remarkable” (Hendrickson, Hamilton 1789-1804).

This is one of the rarest of the fundamental documents of the Founding Fathers.